cover image Runaway


Heather Graham. Delacorte Press, $18.95 (445pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31264-6

This entertaining kickoff volume to a five-part series by bestselling author Graham (And One Rode West) is a swift historical drama set in the untamed, exotic Florida of the 1830s. In a New Orleans poker match, ``Black Irish'' plantation owner Jarrett McKenzie wins the services of gorgeous, fiery Tara Brent for a night (against her wishes) and winds up marrying her and taking her deep into the Florida jungles. Naturally, Tara and Jarrett fall in love and learn each other's secret: that she is fleeing a murder charge, and that he has strong ties to the Seminole Indians, through the tribe's leader, Osceola, who is about to make war with President Jackson's American forces. Crisis follows crisis, often separating Jarrett and Tara, but he proves his courage time and again while she grows to care for his Seminole relatives, even risking her life for them. Meanwhile, tension rises as Tara is pursued by evil Clive Carter, the son of the man she is accused of killing, and as the conflict between the U.S. Army and the Indians builds to a crisis. Graham is an indifferent stylist, but she knows what her readers want-tempestuous protagonists, titillation and just enough history to ground the plot. She delivers these elements with panache, and closes the book with an enticing prologue to volume two, The Undefeated. Author tour. (Sept.)#